The World Happiness Report 2023 is an annual publication by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). The report aims to measure happiness worldwide, and it uses a variety of factors to determine which countries are the happiest.
In this article, we will provide an overview of the report to understand why the Philippines is struggling with happiness levels based on the factors involved.
1 Economic Factors
Here are some of the economic factors that may have played a role in the Philippines' ranking:
GDP per capita. According to World Bank data in 2021, the Philippines had a GDP per capita of $3,460 or PHP 187,984, significantly lower than many other countries on this list and less than half of what its co-weakest state had, Thailand, with $7,067. This means that Filipinos are not as well off financially as people in other countries with similar rankings.
Inflation rate. The inflation rate in the Philippines has been steadily increasing since 2016 and currently stands at 8.7% according to Trading Economics in February of this year. This means that prices for goods and services continue to rise over time, making it harder for people who live on fixed incomes (like pensions) or low wages (like those earned by factory workers) to afford basic necessities like food or housing costs.
Unemployment rate. In January 2023, the unemployment rate was estimated at 4.8 percent, translating to 2.37 million unemployed Filipinos according to Philippine Statistics Authority. Unemployment rates were highest among young adults aged 15-24 years old − 30% compared with 20% overall − and lowest among older adults aged 65 years old or more − 3%.
2 Social Factors
The country has a low life expectancy and high suicide rates, which are both indicators of poor health.
The Philippines also has a low literacy rate and high unemployment rate, which means that many people cannot read or write well enough to get jobs that pay well. This leads to poverty and crime in many areas of the country.
3 Environmental Factors
The Philippines' air quality is among the worst in Asia, with Manila being ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The country's water quality is something that people have also been suffering from, especially in urban areas.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified mining as one of the biggest threats to natural resources in the Philippines. Mining companies have been accused of dumping toxic waste into rivers, destroying forests, and polluting groundwater supplies with arsenic and mercury.
4 Political Factors
The Philippines has had a long history of political instability since its independence from Spain at the end of World War II. This instability has led many Filipinos to question whether their government can provide them with security and prosperity. With the new administration, many Filipinos still hope for things to change, especially those in low-income households.
Other factors include according to the World Happiness Report:
- Social support, or having someone to count on in times of trouble.
- Healthy Life Expectancy. Mental health is a key component of subjective well-being and is also a risk factor for future physical health and longevity. Mental health influences and drives a number of individual choices, behaviors, and outcomes.
- Freedom to make Life Choices. “Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your freedom to choose what you do with your life?”
- Generosity. A clear marker for a sense of positive community engagement and a central way that humans connect with each other. Research shows that in all cultures, starting in early childhood, people are drawn to behaviors that benefit other people.
- Dystopia. Dystopia is an imaginary country that has the world’s least-happy people. The purpose of establishing Dystopia is to have a benchmark against which all countries can be favorably compared (no country performs more poorly than Dystopia) in terms of each of the six key variables. The lowest scores observed for the six key variables, therefore, characterize Dystopia. Since life would be very unpleasant in a country with the world’s lowest incomes, lowest life expectancy, lowest generosity, most corruption, least freedom, and least social support, it is referred to as “Dystopia,” in contrast to Utopia.
Despite publications such as this, there are others that celebrate the Filipino spirit. Widely regarded as one of the happiest people in Asia, the Filipino people are known for their positive outlook on life and the ability to find joy in even the most challenging circumstances. They have proven time and time again their remarkable resilience in the face of adversity. From natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes to political turmoil and economic challenges, the Filipino spirit remains unbroken.
Behind the hardships they have endured, Filipinos continue to rise up and rebuild their communities with unwavering determination and an unbreakable spirit. This resilience is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture, passed down through generations of ancestors who have faced similar struggles.